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Top MAC Football Players of 2013: #39 Justin Currie, Western Michigan DB

The Broncos finally join the conversation inside the top 40 with their tackling specialist in the backfield.

Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE

Y'all have been patient, WMU fans. With the announcement of Currie as our 39th top MAC football player, all teams have finally been accounted for. Of course, being the last team with a reveal on the list is not necessarily a bad thing, given how we're progressing sequentially. And we're starting off by discussing their defense. Of course.

Justin Currie took the short drive down US Route 131 from Big Rapids High School to Kalamazoo as a running back/defensive back, but WMU obviously wanted him at safety. His first career game in 2011 was against Illinois, picking up his first (and still only one in his career) interception. He would play as a reserve in nine games, posting 24 total tackles and one pass breakup.

The numbers in 2012 jumped nicely as a starter in all 12 games: 98 tackles, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. What you saw from him on a game-by-game basis was a very real progression; in the opener at Illinois he made 7 tackles, a career best. He followed that up with eight tackles against Eastern Illinois, then nine against Minnesota. Two games later stopped the ball carrier 15 times against Toledo. Against NIU he made a team-best 14 tackles, and yes eight of those were stopping Jordan Lynch. For this season, he was named second team All-MAC.

And we don't have as much of a detailed breakdown of his coursework, but he posted a 3.52 GPA during the fall 2012 semester, good to be named as one of two WMU players on the Academic All-MAC team. So, lots of tackles and lots of A's. And he's pursuing a major in criminal justice, and while I'm not sure if it's on the law or order side, having a police officer being able to tackle you routinely would be pretty cool. I guess a tackling lawyer also has a prestige of its own.

I did not have Currie in my personal top 40 but to me he can certainly get there. This Broncos unit will be one of the better secondaries in the MAC, not only because of Currie but also Donald Celiscar and Johnnie Simon, who had some breakout seasons as well. But they definitely are in a position to improve. Last year when it came to passing defense, they were very middle-of-the-road — eighth in opposing QB rating and 10th in interceptions. And I think that's the part of the game I'm looking to see out of Currie: disrupt more passes and take a couple of them away.